Maybe I’d overdosed on reading Elle, Bazaar and Vogue magazines, drugged by the photo spreads of knitting-needle thin models showing off what’s going to be or is now trendy in the world of fashion. Maybe it was the below-zero doldrums of January in Maine when the white snow flew and the thin red line of the thermometer sunk into a fat red blob at the base of the instrument. But whatever it was, a few weeks ago I was beset by a bohemian moment. It came to me in two segments.
With a strange abandon for the usual scheme of needlework things in my life, I found myself in possession of two very large skeins of Lion Brand “Romance” mohair blend yarn — definitely not a natural fiber even with the word ‘mohair’ on the label. Acquisition of the yarn was the result of a dalliance in the fabric department at Marden’s, a dangerous place for me, creatively speaking. Too often some fat quarter or oddball skein of yarn whispers my name, and I am enchanted by its siren call. (And Odysseus thought he had problems with Circe. Clearly, he didn’t knit, crochet, sew, embroider, spin, bead or weave. But I think Penelope knew.)
What, I asked myself, am I going to do with 32 ounces of fluffy spring green yarn, a color that, while pretty enough, isn’t really one of my favorites?
But the bohemian moment had caught me and before I quite knew how it happened, I’d found crochet pattern 60379 on the Lion Brand Web site, and with a size J crochet hook in hand, I began crocheting a sweater.
I had not crocheted a sweater in many a year because I don’t particularly like the look of crocheted sweaters, but there I was making rows of double crochet — the stitches reminded me of sprigs of grass coming to life as winter melted away. Maybe that was part of the fascination.
I saw the sweater take shape in my mind’s eye. The front, neck and sleeve edges would sport a crocheted row of eyelash yarn in variegated shades of pale green, yellow, pink and blue, and the sweater would be fastened asymmetrically with a large vintage button the color of the rising moon on a sweet June evening. I had seen that button glowing in a glass jar full of buttons one dark afternoon when I was rooting around in a drawer searching for a piece of iron-on interfacing. I couldn’t resist reaching for that button. I knew right away that it deserved a special place on my sweater.
The nice thing about using a hook as large as a J is that the work goes quickly and before January was over, I had finished crocheting the sweater. It took an evening to sew the pieces together and another hour to add the single-crochet edging and the button.
I tried the sweater on and I liked what I saw and felt — it fit well and it was warm. And it looked great with turtlenecks in a variety of colors.
Another nice thing about making the sweater is that the total cost was a little over $6.
The only drawback I found in working with the pattern is that the sleeve caps were not shaped properly, being too short from armpit to the top of the shoulder. I suspected that as I worked, but I followed the directions precisely, for a change, but I wish I hadn’t because the armhole openings ended up being a bit smaller than I like, though not uncomfortably so.
Another thing the pattern didn’t allow for was a buttonhole, but the yarn is stretchy enough to pull the big button between two of the double crochet stitches. Instead of buttoning and unbuttoning I will simply pull the sweater on over my head since the neckline is wide. The left side of the sweater neckline needed a snap closure, which wasn’t mentioned in the pattern either.
But solving those minor difficulties was fun.
Now I have a new sweater in a bohemian mood, the color of young grass, my own yarny harbinger of spring.
Visit www.lionbrand.com to find many free patterns for crocheted sweaters and other wearing apparel.
• Woodlawn Museum in Ellsworth is offering a 12-hour rug hooking workshop 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday April 7 and 21, and Thursday, April 16 and 30, at the museum. This is a beginner class and participants will work an 8-inch-by-13-inch mat featuring a saltbox-style house with an apple tree and a fence. The cost of the class is $125 for museum members, $140 for others, and includes a frame, hook, predrawn linen, precut wool, scissors and binder tape. Participants are asked to supply a spool of button or carpet thread and a heavy needle for binding the mat.
Preregistration for the class is required by Wednesday, April 1. For more information, call 667-8671 or e-mail email@example.com.
• The SAD 22 Adult Education Program in Hampden is offering a jewelry beading class 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning April 7, and a beginning rug hooking class 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning April 8. To register for these classes, call the adult education office noon-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 862-6422 or visit www.sad22.us/adulteducation.
• There’s still time to get in on the Excellence in Needle Arts Awards Brooch Contest. Submissions are due Wednesday, April 1. First prize is $500. Whether you knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch, tat, bead or quilt, your original brooch, pin or nametag design could be a winner. Visit PieceWorkMagazine.com for more information.